Uri Geller, a soft-spoken Israeli, caused a stir in the scientific world of the 1970’s by what appeared to be remarkable mental powers.
He seemed to to bend a variety of metal objects, including forks, spoons, and keys by just stroking them or on occasion merely concentrating on them. He apparently made watches stop or go, bend or twist their hands, and sometimes break off completely, by nothing more than passing his hands over them.
Geller, who became a household word in his native country, the United States and the United Kingdom, could not explain his “powers.” He said: “I just feel it must come from some external source…Perhaps everybody has this within them, but it requires a certain power to trigger it off. I am sure, though, the power must come from an intelligent form of energy.”
He was born in Tel Aviv in 1946, and even at the age of three he knew he could “do things,” including reading people’s minds. In 1969 he demonstrated his powers before an audience at school.
After this first public performance he was asked to appear all over Israel. Some of his critics said he was no more than a brilliant conjurer, but even the most skeptical had to admit that he could perform the most astounding and amazing feats.
In Germany, in 1972, he snapped handles off spoons and left knives and forks slowly bending as he walked away. Watches stopped, started, and broke in his presence, and keys bent. Even more impressive, he drove a car while he was blindfolded, through the crowded streets of Munich.
Finally he stopped a cable car, made it hover over a 150-yard drop in the Chiemgau Mountains, and then moved it forward and backward to his silent command.
Two scientists, Russell Targ and Harold Puthoff at the Max Plank Institute for Plasma Physics described his powers as ” a phenomenon which in theoretical physics cannot yet be explained.”
Geller’s fame spread to the United States. A New York physician and research scientist, Andrija Puharich, went to Israel to decide for himself weather or not Uri Geller’s powers were genuine. As a result of their meeting, Geller agreed to go to the United States to demonstrate his abilities under strict scientific conditions.
Scientists at the Stanford Research Institute in Menlo Park, California, organized strict experiments for Geller to carry out. They also took film of him performing his feats.
At the institute Geller was asked to pick out from 10 small metal cylinder the one that contained a metal ball.After a few moments’ concentration and passing his hands back and forth across them, he was able to pick out the correct cylinder. Another test consisted of selecting which one of the metal cylinders contained water, and again he was able to pick the right one. The experiments were repeated with various items and under varying conditions.
Geller was not always able to perform just as he wanted to, but he knew when he could by a kind of “uplift.” One test at Stanford required Geller to duplicate shapes hidden from his view. In one case he drew a cluster of rounds shapes, not knowing what they were—the test picture was a bunch of grapes, and he had drawn the same number of round objects ad there were grapes in the picture.
He said he saw the picture on a kind of television screen in his mind. Although many believed his talents were genuine, no theory has yet emerged to explain what forces he used. Geller said that he was interested in performing to “sympathetic” audiences or small friendly gatherings. He claimed he needed the energy of others to generate his mental forces efficiently.
Dr. Puharich, who spent a great deal of time with Geller, Said: “It is fact that ther is an outer-space intelligence that exists independent of any form that we know and operates through Uri and around Uri.”
Influence on TV
That “intelligence” must have been operating strongly the night Geller appeared on British television in 1973. For after performing feats before scientists and a studio audience, hundreds of people phoned, jamming the BBC-TV center switchboards, to say that metal objects in their own homes had bent and broken while Geller was on television.
They also reported that watches which had not worked for many years had suddenly, and for no apparent reason, started ticking as they watched their television sets.
Despite scientific testing Geller continues to have many staunch critics of his “powers”. Many of whose claims seemed to be supported by James Randi and several prominent failures including a performance in 1973 on the The Tonight Show, in which Geller failed to bend any of the tableware that had been provided by Johnny Carson.
Geller now hosts several television shows and travels the world as an entertainer. He still maintains that his feats are the results of paranormal powers given to him by extraterrestrials. His hope is that one day scientists will be able to somehow explain what lies behind his strange powers.