Physics and Psychics

The Occult and the Sciences in Modern Britain

Physics and Psychics

This is the first systematic exploration of the intriguing connections between Victorian physical sciences and the study of the controversial phenomena broadly classified as psychic, occult and paranormal. Les mer
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Physics and Psychics

This is the first systematic exploration of the intriguing connections between Victorian physical sciences and the study of the controversial phenomena broadly classified as psychic, occult and paranormal. These phenomena included animal magnetism, spirit-rapping, telekinesis and telepathy. Richard Noakes shows that psychic phenomena interested far more Victorian scientists than we have previously assumed, challenging the view of these scientists as individuals clinging rigidly to a materialistic worldview. Physicists, chemists and other physical scientists studied psychic phenomena for a host of scientific, philosophical, religious and emotional reasons, and many saw such investigations as exciting new extensions to their theoretical and experimental researches. While these attempted extensions were largely unsuccessful, they laid the foundations of modern day explorations of the connections between physics and psychic phenomena. This revelatory study challenges our view of the history of physics, and deepens our understanding of the relationships between science and the occult, and science and religion.

List of figures and tables; Acknowledgements; List of abbreviations; Introduction; 1. New imponderables, new sciences; 1.1 Animal magnetism as physics; 1.2 The oddity of od; 1.3 Outdoing the electric telegraph; 1.4 'Scientific men' and spiritualism; 1.5 Extending the boundaries of physics; 2. A survey of physical-psychical scientists; 2.1 Inventing psychical research; 2.2 Identifying physical-psychical scientists; 2.3 Connecting physical-psychical scientists; 2.4 Gold mines of science, handmaids to faith; 2.5 Changing attitudes to psychical investigation; 3. Psychical effects and physical theories; 3.1 Removing scientific 'stumbling blocks'; 3.2 Challenging materiality; 3.3 Dim analogies; 3.4 Maxwellian psychics; 3.5 Doubts and criticisms; 4. Psychical investigation as experimental physics; 4.1 From psychic force to the radiometer; 4.2 Tying mediums with electricity; 4.3 Magnetic sense or nonsense?; 4.4 Physical as psychical laboratories; 4.5 Wanting opportunities?; 5. Expertise in physics and psychics; 5.1 Scourging spiritualists and scientists; 5.2 Tricky instruments of psychics; 5.3 Tricky instruments of physics; 5.4 Psychical researchers and conjurors; 5.5 N-rays and psychical expertise; 6. Modernising physics and psychics; 6.1 Busy men; 6.2 'Applied' psychical research; 6.3 Lodge's etherial body; 6.4 Interpreting Lodge's physics and psychics; 6.5 Interwar transitions; Conclusion; Bibliography; Index.

Noakes' revelatory analysis of Victorian scientists' fascination with psychic phenomena connects science, the occult and religion in intriguing new ways.

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