Jahn, Robert G(eorge) (1930– )
Engineering professor and rocket propulsion specialist at
Princeton University. Born on April 1, 1930. Jahn branched
out into investigation, under strict laboratory conditions, of
micro-PK effects in parapsychology. Following publication of
his parapsychological studies, he was demoted from the post of
dean of the engineering faculty at Princeton to an associate
professorship. However, his studies are widely respected by
parapsychologists for their scope and rigor. He continued experimenting
at the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research
Laboratory, funded by the McDonnell Foundation and the
Petzer Institute.
Jahn’s experiments, conducted over 14 years, during which
period he devised increasingly sophisticated safeguards against
charges of possible error or fraud, are based on a random event
generator featuring the white noise emitted by an electrical
diode. The noise produced is sampled a thousand times a second
to ascertain whether it is in a positive or negative value
phase, the probability being roughly equal, even making allowance
for occasional significant deviations, which can also be calculated.
The setup amounts to a kind of electrical ‘‘heads or
tails’’ choice. The subject sits in front of the generator and attempts
to mentally effect a positive or negative registration,
and the result is charted on a computer screen.
In later macro-PK experiments, Jahn created a random mechanical
cascade, resembling a pinball machine, in which 9,000
polystyrene balls drop through a grid of nylon pegs, bouncing
about to collect in time at the bottom. The balls should normally
end up with a classic Gaussian (normal), bell-shaped distribution.
Jahn’s experiments show that PK subjects tend to produce
slight deviations to one side.
One remarkable recent development is Jahn’s experiments
with subjects attempting to influence his devices from as far
away as Kenya, New Zealand, England, and Russia, sitting for
an hour at an agreed time and attempting to alter output according
to a prearranged pattern. Distance does not appear to
affect the results.
Jahn has also attempted to assist other experimenters by
creating inexpensive solid-state versions of his random event
generators that can be used to replicate his findings.