Fringe Scientists Gather in Columbus I don't know much about science, but I know what I like. I likeNikola Tesla, Wilhelm Reich, L. Ron Hubbard, R.D. Laing. I love Bucky Fuller,Douglas Hofstadter, Richard Feynman, Jacques Vallee-guys that make me think,whether I have linear detailed knowledge of what I'm thinking about or not.I'm in love with the provocateur; I want to be jarred. Call it an Artaudianposition. I'm not a scientist. I don't pretend to be. I'm a student. I wantto be provoked, to think and feel in new ways as a result of my contacts. When Marshall McLuhan was pressed to explain the occasionalcontradictions in his media theories, he responded by creating a meme he labeled"probes." He maintained that he was continually uttering these "probes"designed to elicit responses and thereby acquire feedback on new hypotheses.These hypotheses were forever subject to change, as hypotheses should be. Thisis one way of relieving oneself from labor. McLuhan spouted provocative notions,and let others do the gruntwork of critique. He was the Andy Warhol of Big Science.He was agile. Agility is everything. I was pretty pissed off at Con Ed after the heat wave blackoutlast month, and was wondering just how it is that puny little circuses of everybarbaric shape, size and description can manage to generate power for the 4 o'clock show out on the road no matter what's happening in the world aroundthem, while the power grid operator for the most important city in the knownuniverse can't manage to supply the 85-year-old woman who lives up the hallfrom me with the energy necessary to get to the ground floor and back with acartload of good cold meat. As much as I loathe psychiatry, one of my best friends-whomI'll call Dr. Bud-happens to be a semiretired psychiatrist examining alternativescience, with a particular interest in alternative energy systems. Dr. Bud calledme up on the heels of our recent unpleasantness with Con Ed and suggested thatI accompany him to Columbus, OH, of all places, for a conference on alternativeapproaches to current scientific orthodoxy in a wide range of fields. The conferencewas being presented under the auspices of the United States Psychotronics Association(USPA), an organization that's been providing a platform for fringe scientistsfor the past 25 years. I spent a total of 21 hours waiting for this maniac toshow up before we actually took off for Ohio on Thursday, July 15, in a borrowedRange Rover. The Range Rover is the worst automobile I have ever driven.The steering is horrible, the dashboard controls are totally anti-ergonomic,there's no headroom whatsoever and the thing only gets 17 miles per gallon. Despite all that, we made it to Columbus intact, arriving at 8:45 a.m. on Friday,leaving enough time for a little nap before the first lecture, scheduled for1:30. When I woke up, CNN was reporting on a plague of locusts in Russia, BruceSpringsteen in East Rutherford and the annual Cable Car Bell Ringing Contestin San Francisco. There is a great deal of paranoia regarding the press on thealternative science circuit. It's understandable among fringe types. Any challengeto orthodoxy is usually greeted with hoots of derision from the unwashed masses,and this particular range of pursuits lends itself to exploitation by unimaginativeattack journalism. Robert Beutlich, the secretary and treasurer of the USPA,was extremely wary of me on the phone when I arranged for my pass. I assuredhim that I had no particular agenda in mind, and that my biases tend to runagainst mainstream consensus reality, which I regard as a hoax. The conference was held at the Ramada University Hotel on theoutskirts of Columbus. There were 30 speakers on topics ranging from zero-pointenergy systems to personalized theurgical multimedia events. About 200 peopleshowed up. The lectures were in two conference rooms, and there were boothsset up with various gadgets and literature in two larger rooms off the lobby. The demographic profile of the attendees was interesting. Therewere more women than I'd expected, and there couldn't have been more than fivepeople under 30. Quite a number of retired military personnel are into thisstuff. I saw two blacks, one Asian and about a half-dozen Latinos. Alternativescience is a very white phenomenon. I'd packed an eighth of an ounce of some very nice hydro, aDutch hybrid strain. I smoked a joint and wandered around checking out the booths.There were a lot of really peculiar gadgets on display. I got to thinking aboutTom Swift and the whole spirit of the 50s with regard to technology-the postwarnotion that science could and would solve all human ills, the remarkably idealisticand frankly silly ideas of the future that prevailed at that time. I rememberthe 1964 World's Fair in Flushing. It was probably the last gasp of that mentality.There was a huge diorama on display in one of the exhibition halls, I forgetwhich. It might have been GM. It was called "Futurama," and it wasa hopelessly idealistic George Jetson projection of how we'd be living now.It was very clean and full of robots and flying cars. It seemed quite plausibleat the time. Now it's just ridiculous. I avoided the tables with very flashy gadgets on them on theprinciple that the prettier the gadget, the less likely it is that it actuallydoes anything. I tried to slip past a table full of conspiracy literature without attracting the attention of the fellow manning it, but the "Press"badge I was forced to wear proved irresistible to him. I cut him short by claimingI had a meeting. I wandered over to a table spread with some mundane-lookingdevices, just boxes with wires coming out of them. The guy behind the tablehad the look of an aged boxer-a certain pugnacious set to the jaw. I figuredhim to be at least 75. There was nothing flashy about him or his display. Hedidn't look like any kind of approval hound or salesman. I had to talk to thisguy. His name is Robert Beck. The bio sheet handed out by USPA listshim as "an award-winning physicist...widely known for his instrumentationof altered states, his development of state-of-the-art medical electro-stimulators,and his investigation of Tesla electro-magnetics. He has been a consultant toboth industry and government and was a senior lecturer in the graduate schoolat the University of Southern California. He owns several patents includingthe low-voltage electronic flash. After discovering hidden research and severalpatents, Dr. Beck was convinced that microcurrents of electricity have the powerto disable viruses and other pathogens to allow the body to heal itself." That's just the tip of the iceberg. I got to talking with Beck,and found out that he's worked as a consultant to Sandia Corp. and the U.S.Navy Office of Surface Weaponry. He was also a senior staff scientist at Eyring Research Institute and acting chief of radiological defense, OCD, in Los Angelesfrom 1958 to 1963. His specialty in the area of defense technology was ELF detection.Back in 1969, while the rest of us were blasted on acid, he founded the MonitorElectronics Research Corp. and the Alpha-Metrics company for the manufactureof EEG biofeedback instruments. Beck isn't selling anything and is very emphatically not seekingfunds. What he's doing is promoting the resumption of research into a methodof healing based on a research curve that was actively suppressed by the pharmaceuticalsindustry in the early years of this century and rediscovered by Dr. Steven Kaaliand William Lyman at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine here in New Yorkin 1990. Kaali obtained U.S. Patent #5,188,738 on Feb. 23, 1993, forwhat the patent abstract describes as a "new alternating current processand system for treatment of blood and/or other body fluids and/or synthetic fluids from a donor to a recipient or storage receptacle or in a recycling systemusing novel electrically conductive treatment vessels for treating blood and/orother body fluids and/or synthetic fluids with electric field forces of appropriateelectric field strength to provide electric current flow through the blood orother body fluids at a magnitude that is biologically compatible but is sufficientto render the bacteria, virus, parasites and/or fungus ineffective to infector affect normally healthy cells while maintaining the biological usefulnessof the blood or other fluids." Science News gave it a brief mention in their issue ofMarch 30, 1991, page 207: "Zapping the AIDS virus with low-voltage electric currentcan nearly eliminate its ability to infect human white blood cells culturedin the laboratory, reports a research team at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City. "William D. Lyman and his colleagues found that exposureto 50 to 100 microamperes of electricity-comparable to that produced by a cardiacpacemaker-reduced the infectivity of the AIDS virus (HIV) by 50 to 95 percent.Their experiments, described March 14 in Washington, D.C., at the First InternationalSymposium on Combination Therapies, showed that the shocked viruses lost theability to make an enzyme crucial to their reproduction, and could no longercause the white blood cells to clump together-two key signs of virus infection." Lyman and Kaali were projecting some sort of invasive procedure,along the lines of dialysis or implants, but the modality being promoted byBeck is a four-pronged, noninvasive protocol that he claims will disable anypathogen. It is very similar to the work being conducted by Jacques Schrenzeland Karl Heinz Krause at Geneva University Hospital in Switzerland, as reportedby the French journal Science & Vie in September 1998. Beck is a very funny guy, a classic curmudgeon in the W.C. Fields-H.L.Mencken-William Burroughs mold. I always thought that the occult motto of theAmerican Medical Association was "If it ain't broke, fix it until it is,"but Bob maintains that it's really "A patient cured is a customer lost."He's not after money and he doesn't seem to want attention. It's almost likehe can barely be bothered, and when he doesn't want to be bothered, he has noqualms about saying it. He's giving away schematics for three very simple devicesthat any hobbyist can build. He says that my virus load of 5000+ Hepatitis Cboogers per cubic centimeter of blood can be reduced to under 100 in eight weeks.I intend to check this out, because it has become glaringly obvious to me thatmainstream medicine doesn't know rat shit from Rice Krispies when it comes to Hep C, and what the heck, if Beck is right I can get serious about drinkingagain. I went back to my room and smoked another joint. I didn't comehere looking for a cure. I came looking for interesting gadgets and a possibleexplanation for that creepy HAARP device gobbling so much tax revenue up inAlaska. I'm interested in the Persinger Helmet, which supposedly induces "alienabduction" experiences in humans by blasting the hippocampus region ofthe brain with ELF waves. I'd like to try one on. I attended Robert Kersten's remarkably lucid and provocativepresentation on "Dynamic Holography as a Model for Interaction betweenEnergy Fields." Kersten's an interesting guy. He's a senior research scientist at Ciencia, Inc., a little R&D outfit that develops ultrasensitive and compactspectrometers. He explained how phase conjugation works and how the phenomenonmight be used as a model for unconscious communication between people. He surprisedme by mentioning the Zuccarelli Holophonic Head System, a truly amazing microphonethat mimics the resonances of the human head. We got to talking about this afterhis presentation, and it turned out that he hadn't heard the three recordingsI know of that were made using this system: Edgar Froese's Aqua, PinkFloyd's The Final Cut and Psychic TV's Dreams Less Sweet. I sat through as much as I could stand of Prof. Euvaldo Cabral'slecture on his theory of "Emotons." Professor Cabral has a master'sdegree in digital signal processing from the Military Institute of Engineering in Brazil and a doctorate in speech signal processing, electronics and artificialneural networks from the University of East Anglia in England. He's fixatedon survival after death, and has developed an elaborate theory regarding thestructure of the human soul that was simply too much for me to listen to. Ican't get interested in life after death. It's too abstract and seems inherentlyoxymoronic, like English cuisine or African government. A woman named Dawn Stranges was threatening to channel somedead celebrity over dinner, but the food at the Ramada sucked, so Dr. Bud andI lit out to find some decent grub. Have I mentioned that the Range Rover handleshorribly? It wants to flip over, is what it wants. By the time we got back,I was so zapped by fatigue that I barely managed to attend the wine and cheesefete, opting for a few glasses of wine and a good night's sleep. I seriously overslept-a very deep and dreamless sleep. WhenI awoke, Dr. Bud had already left the room for the convention. I ordered somecereal and juice and turned on CNN, figuring to get more on the Russian locusts.No such luck: JFK Jr.'s plane was missing, and my heart sank as I realized thatthis was going to be the only news for at least three or four days. I figuredit would be at least as bad as the Princess Di business, not as bad as O.J.Simpson. After the maid brought my Wheaties and orange juice I rolled a jointand switched over to cartoons. After breakfast I showered, smoked the jointand ambled downstairs to mingle with the psychotronicists. I was starting to get slightly annoyed at the paranoia. I keptgetting this "You're not gonna write anything bad, are you?" vibe-lengthyhistories of unfortunate encounters with the press, unpleasantness, smear jobs, et cetera, et cetera. I don't really much give a shit what other people thinkof me, but I wanted to get this story, so I had to indulge these people. I waspretty frank about not having an agenda with regard to any of this stuff. They get a lot of guff from unenlightened idiots who know absolutelynothing about the lengths to which corporate interests will go to protect theirprofits. You hear a lot of derisive hoo-ha about "conspiracy theorists" from cocktail-party media pigs who seem to think that history happens by accident.It was no accident that brought down Preston Tucker. The Tucker automobile is an excellent object lesson for thosewho would dismiss these people as kooks. Preston Tucker's car was vastly superiorto anything made in America at that time. It was the American Volvo. He wascrushed by the Big Three, but not before he managed to manufacture 51 cars atthe end of the 1940s. I have stood in the presence of 48 of those cars, examinedthem up close. It should have worked, and it would have worked, but it threatenedFord, GM and Chrysler, and they shut the Tucker down. J.P. Morgan was happy to back Nick Tesla, right up until themoment he discovered that Tesla intended to use his radio to generate a freeenergy field, and in fact did so in Colorado Springs. "Where the Hell do I put the meter?" was Morgan's response. He cut the money to Tesla andsaw to it that Tesla's dream died with him. Sure, there are kooks on this circuit. There are charlatans,too. You'll find kooks and charlatans anywhere. There are more than a few practicingmedicine in this town. I know, I've met a few of them. On the kook front, I should probably have had a couple of drinksinstead of a joint before going in to hear Anne Meshanko. Her bio in the handoutsays that she "has studied theology at the University of Dayton and practicedenergy work through Reiki." Apparently Reiki is quite the rage in Ohiocurrently. I entered the room just in time to hear her segue from a discourseon the need to unify and balance the upper and lower chakras into a revelationregarding the destruction of Atlantis and Lemuria. A dowdy woman resemblingBette Davis in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? seated just in front ofme interjected that "Atlantis was destroyed by black magic." Therewas some coughing and throat-clearing before Ms. Meshanko resumed. I made amental note to avoid this Black Magic Woman at all costs. She settled back andlet Ms. Meshanko proceed with her analysis of antediluvian kundalini mishaps.I surreptitiously split to check out the booths and tables. I ran into Dr. Bud, who insisted that I catch up with Phil Callahan.Callahan's specialty is agriculture. He's a very down-to-earth guy, a wry andsprightly old gent who spent a great deal of time intercepting and interpretingNazi signals from a base in Ireland during WWII. He has authored several excellentbooks recounting his "rucksack naturalist" wanderings and research,and he has a few very pertinent things to say about the way we grow our food.His most interesting idea has to do with paramagnetism, which is a physicalforce described in every decent physics textbook in print. This is not someephemeral spiritual hooey. The connecting thread here seems to be some background in signalintelligence and a fascination with ELF/VLF (extremely low frequency and verylow frequency) waves. This general field of interest seems to come under theheading of "radionics," but that term has also been construed to includea fair amount of what I'd loosely characterize as hoodoo blather. Tesla's ghostlooms heavily over the whole tendency. I didn't hear one word on the subjectof UFOs, which is very interesting. Dr. Bud and I hooked up with Duncan Laurie and wound up ridingout to Michael Bradford's most amazing spread hidden away in the boonies ofOhio. We traveled in a champagne-colored Cadillac, from the days when an Americancar was really big. Duncan Laurie is a great big guy who looks like the captainof the football team or something, real All-American. Duncan is also one extremelyintense dude, applying his various theories and pursuits to art. He's got astudio up in Jamestown, RI, designed around radionic and traditional sacredgeometric principles. He has applied these theories to the very architectureof the building housing the studio. Michael Bradford is a very genial fellow,very secure, and happens to be the father of the Genesis, a nifty studio gadgetthat basically suspends a person in the center of an array of speakers and sensorsin a relaxed position. The sensors read the body armoring and target the soundat the armor. This can be used to alter the mix on an existing recording, orentirely new music can be generated in an intent-driven way. The champagne Cadillac is owned by Cheryl, who is with SteveNalepa, and they are both perpetrators of the Dilettante Press, an incrediblyedgy art publisher out of L.A. It's a David Lynch ride out through the Ohio night: weird blues playing, a sliver of a moon hanging in the sky as we headfurther out of Columbus into the Back 40, the children of the corn out slicingand dicing black German shepherds for Satan, directions like "there's achurch and a cemetery and a blinking red light" and warnings of seriouslydemented cops from the locals when we stop for directions. None of us are stupidenough to be holding, but there is an element of tension in getting out there.We crossed the railroad tracks, passed a cornfield and we were there. Chaselights and moss hung from the trees. It was nearly midnight. Michael greeted us and led us around to his laboratory. He has16 acres here. He used to keep an office in New York as well. He and Duncandid a little catching up on the whereabouts of mutual friends and associates.He's far too gracious to go into detail, but I get the impression that Bradfordhas withdrawn from the psychotronic circuit for some reason. We knocked backa couple of beers with him and his wife and daughter and then we went into thestudio. Cheryl laid down on the Genesis and Michael fired it up andslipped in a CD. Since I'd never heard the CD before, it was difficult for meto ascertain exactly what was being done to the mix. Duncan wanted to get his hands on the knobs, so Michael relinquished the engineer's chair and joinedme on the patio while the others played with the Genesis. We chatted about informationoverload and urban living for about an hour, and then it was time to head backto the hotel. We got back at about 2:30 a.m. and discovered Tom Bearden holdingcourt before a small group of people in the back room. Tom Bearden is a fascinatingfellow. A great bear of a man from Alabama, a down-home Southern gentleman whosespeech is peppered with Cajun idioms and proverbs, Bearden is a retired lieutenantcolonel of the U.S. Army Missile Command who worked as a war games analyst.He's been active with the USPA for a number of years, his specialty being apractical critique of current interpretations of Maxwell's equations. Goingback to the original material and reintroducing avenues of inquiry that had been omitted and ignored by mainstream researchers, he has discovered a numberof interesting warps and woofs that ultimately led him to the design and constructionof "Over-Unity" devices. These devices take advantage of the latentenergy embedded in asymmetrical applications of Maxwell's theories. Bearden has an enormous amount of respect for the Russian scientificestablishment. He admires their willingness to encourage the nonlinear approach,particularly with regard to energy systems and weaponry. His most provocativeremarks were related to defense. Tom maintains that the Russians are in possessionof a new superweapon, one that makes nuclear weapons look like pop guns: theQuantum Potential weapon. According to him, we do not yet have this device.There is no place to hide from this thing: no shielded bunker, no hollow mountainserves to protect from this gadget. The Russians aren't the only ones. According to Bearden, there is a balance of power, a QP "club" of nations notunlike the early nuclear "club." He says that the QP weapon is heldby Russia, Brazil and "a little tiny country that protects the U.S.,"whatever that might be. He's cagey about that one. On Sunday, I attended Bearden's lecture on Over-Unity technologyand then hit the pool. My head felt like it was going to explode. I'm not atechnical guy, and the act of absorbing all the information being thrust at me here was creating a big painful throb in my skull. Bobbing in the chlorinatedwater under the muggy Ohio sky, I just wanted space to digest some small partof the massive quantity of data being hurled at me like so many cream pies beforebeing smothered to death in the meringue of alternative energy theories. I wasmaking my way back to my room from the pool when the Black Magic Woman camelumbering down the hall at me. She was wearing an orange gingham dress and hada big bow in her hair. She was dressed like an enormous child. She was staringfixedly at me as I slipped past her, avoiding eye contact. I got to the room,bolted the door and rolled a joint. I turned on CNN. No luck: all JFK, all day,every day. I switched over to cartoons, smoked the joint, took a long showerand went to bed. The next morning I was anxious to get on the road. Dr. Bud wasschmoozing it up with the psychotronic Illuminati, a small circle of them gatheredin Baxter's, the gruesome excuse for a restaurant nestled in the Ramada. I reallydidn't want to hear any more of it. I'm quite certain that some of these peopleare onto some very exciting and potentially helpful avenues of inquiry. I'malso quite certain that if I hadn't managed to peel Dr. Bud away from thoseguys and gotten us on the road when I did that my head would have exploded,just like that guy in the opening of David Cronenberg's Scanners. At3:30 p.m. on Monday I loaded the last of the bags into the accursed Range Roverand pulled out of Columbus. Dr. Bud would not shut up about free energy systems. It wasraining and we kept running into vicious little squalls-no problem in a carwith some kind of real handling, but fairly frightening in this yuppie carnival ride. I wanted to smoke a joint just to get Dr. Bud's incessant jabbering aboutinfinite wealth into a space I could manage, but it was dark and the rain wascoming down hard and we were surrounded with huge rucks barrel-assing eastwardon 80 at well over the speed limit. I've spent a lot of time in big rigs andI know what goes on in those things, so the joint was not an option. I neededevery damned dendrite and synapse functioning at peak to get back to Manhattanwith my hide intact. I slipped a cassette into the player and cranked up thevolume: RamonesMania, a truly excellent collection of the very creamof the Ramones. Peace through noise. It took about eight hours to get back here. The power was on,thank God. I tuned into WINS 1010 to find out if anything significant happenedwhile I was out of town, but even they were totally fixated on the celebrity death trip. The long-term weather report was troubling, though. As a Con Edcustomer, I get nervous whenever the weatherman suggests that we might be infor a heat wave. The psychotronics crowd turned out to be pretty level-headedby comparison with the kooks and deadbeats who run this city's utilities. Iwish Tom Bearden ran Con Ed.