Byline: JULIE COHEN
DOES telepathy really exist?
Will we be able to use ESP (extrasensory perception) to communicate in years to come? It may sound like sci-fi but scientists at Liverpool John Moores University think we could.
Last Thursday the university opened a research unit to investigate ways of making telepathy a reliable form of communication. The Daily Mail sent JULIE COHEN, a confirmed sceptic, to take part in their experiments.
A CRACKLING sound like an untuned radio is buzzing in my ears and even though my eyes are closed, with what look like half ping-pong balls placed over them, I can see a pink glow from the bright red light shining down on my face.
Lying on what could be a padded operating table in Room 308 at the Consciousness and Transpersonal Psychology Research Unit at Liverpool John Moores University, I feel self-conscious and anxious as I have absolutely no idea what to expect.
In a small room in another part of the building sits Dr Matthew Smith, who is running the telepathy experiments.
A computer has randomly selected an envelope from four contained within a package. The package has similarly been selected from several by computer.
As instructed, Dr Smith pulls out package number ten and then takes picture card number one out of the envelope. He has not seen any of the cards, postcards of various pieces of art, before they were put in the envelopes.
The picture, a Degas pastiche, is of a ballet dancer with her dark hair pulled back in a tight bun and one arm elegantly in the air, while the other is reaching down towards a vacuum cleaner.
The only way Dr Smith can communicate with me is by using the power of his mind to transmit thoughts. A microphone allows him to hear my voice but there is no way for me to hear anything he says in the sender's room, which is several corridors away.
I have been told to describe the images that come into my head.
Dr Smith uses what I say to try to send thoughts that will guide me in the right direction.
Sitting on a metal chair he stares intently at the picture and concentrates on sending me the image using his mind alone. He has just 20 minutes to transmit the image.
As I lie nervously waiting for something to happen, bizarre images come into my mind.
I half-expect some unknown voice in my head to start booming out answers but all I feel is a strange sense of self-consciousness as my mind starts generating images of houses and animals.
Although I can hear nothing, Dr Smith later tells me that he sighed in frustration as he heard my voice describe a picture of a house with red tiles. Then I see an elephant.
'No, no it's something human, think human,' says Smith, but I am unable to hear his words. He starts frantically to draw the picture on a blank sheet of paper to help his mind concentrate.
BACK in Room 308 I feel the image of an elephant being pushed out of my head. It is a strange sensation and my self-consciousness suddenly leaves me.
My mind seems to wander freely.
'Flowers, I see flowers,' I say, feeling more confident. Smith is delighted as there are flowers on the dancer's costume.
There is no way I can hear his sounds of encouragement but I have the strong sense of something telling me I'm on the right track.
'There's a field and lots of grass and what looks like a fluffy sheep,' I say.
'There is green but it's not grass - think differently,' he was trying to tell me through his thoughts.
'Music, I can feel an image of music, perhaps it's coming from an old-fashioned record player,' I say.
I feel waves of enthusiasm, then I tell him I see a strong picture of a woman with her dark haired tied back in a bun.
'That's right, that's right,' says Smith as he sends more mind waves of encouragement and concentrates even harder on the image of the woman. …