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Soviet Union Spent $1 Billion On "Psychotronic" Arms Race With the US 230

Posted by samzenpus
from the scan-me dept.
KentuckyFC writes "During the Cold War, the US and the Soviet Union battled on many fronts to demonstrate their superior technical and scientific achievements. While the race to put a human in space and then on the Moon is famous, a much less well-known battlefront was the unconventional science of parapsychology, or psychotronics as the Soviets called it. Now a new review of unconventional research in the Soviet Union reveals the scale of this work for the first time and the cost: as much as $1 billion. The Soviets had programs studying how "human energy" could influence other objects and how this energy could be generated independently of humans using a device called 'cerpan'. The Soviets also had a mind control program similar to the CIA's infamous MKULTRA project. Interestingly, the Soviets included non-local physics in this work, such as the Aharonov-Bohm effect in which an electromagnetic field can influence a particle confined to region where the field strength is zero. And they built a number of devices that exploited the effect, although research in this area appears to have ended in 2003."
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Soviet Union Spent $1 Billion On "Psychotronic" Arms Race With the US

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  • Re:Whoah whoah whoah (Score:2, Informative)

    by M1FCJ (586251) on Thursday December 12, 2013 @09:14AM (#45669577)

    Poppycock - computers were already a major thing - in UK even bakeries had started installing them in 1951. You Americans need to learn the computing history all over again.

  • by Sockatume (732728) on Thursday December 12, 2013 @10:16AM (#45669973)

    MKULTRA wasn't about imaginary weapons, but about real methods to manipulate behaviour through (for example) chemical agents. It's well documented and scientifically grounded; it's hard to imagine how it would inspire anyone to perform psi research.

  • Re:Slashdot affect (Score:4, Informative)

    by MrLizard (95131) on Thursday December 12, 2013 @11:21AM (#45670591)

    "Surely spending that kind of money on such a project had some merit, or it wouldn't have cost so much"

    You've never studied history or held a job at a corporation, have you? Spending millions, billions, trillions on meritless projects is what any entity large enough to have that kind of money *does*. Constantly. Continuously. All the time.

    The division I work(ed) for was just bought by another company, because they wanted to integrate our software and acquired expertise. The buyer, having spent this money, announced all employees would need to re-apply for their existing jobs, which is only a little silly, and also all relocate, which is a LOT silly, since all of us worked remotely, and many of us couldn't relocate even if we wanted to. So, pretty much, they just lost all the accumulated knowledge they just paid for, and what they've got is tens of thousands of lines of mostly undocumented code that's virtually impossible to maintain or understand without spending months stepping through it. (It was developed over a decade by dozens of transient programmers, and in-line documentation varies from "sparse" to "actually false".)

    Multiply that little bit of stupidity by tens of thousands of corporations and hundreds of world governments, and you have the world we live in.

  • by Soldrinero (789891) on Thursday December 12, 2013 @04:46PM (#45674189)

    we know that simply observing an experiment can change the outcome. We don't know why that is either, AFAIK ... So it seems that consciousness and attention can have effects in the physical world, the mechanism of which we cannot explain.

    We most certainly *do* know why observation affects an experiment. It's the Heisenberg uncertainty principle in action - if you make a measurement of the state of a system, that variable is known to some degree of precision. Its conjugate variable [] is thus made uncertain to a degree prescribed by the uncertainty principle. This has nothing to do with consciousness or a living observer.

    A simple double-slit experiment [] works because of the uncertainty in the position of the particle. The wavefunction interferes with itself as it comes out of both slits and affects the possible positions it can be observed at on the detector. If you measure whether the particle passes through one of the slits, it's position is no longer uncertain, the wavefunction changes, and the experiment reflects that. This is well-understood quantum mechanics, although the popular press likes to pretend we don't know anything about it. And yes, IAAP (I am a physicist).

"If you want to eat hippopatomus, you've got to pay the freight." -- attributed to an IBM guy, about why IBM software uses so much memory