Q & A in Email Correspondence

The formal FAQ has detailed responses and links, but for those who want a broader survey, the following email exchanges offer other examples and perspectives.

On How it Works

Date: Tue, 03 Sep 2002 09:32:06 -0400 (EDT)
From: rdnelson 
To: Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana 
Subject: Re: REG

On Mon, 2 Sep 2002, Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana wrote:

> Dear Nelson,
> Good morning,
> Please clarify following things with regard to REG unit which is
> installed at Bangalore.

Dear Kishore,

I will give some brief answers to your questions, although
some of them are difficult.  They are in some cases exactly
the questions we are asking in the research.

You should also look at the material on the GCP website for more
detail on some of these questions.  http://teilhard.global-mind.org/
Look at the FAQ, the Brief Overview, and the EGG Story. Use the
search engine for "REG", and "how it works", etc.

> 1. How it works?

The REG uses a quantum level source of electrical potential
that varies randomly.  We sample this truly random time
series and count the samples that are greater and smaller
than the average.  These samples counts are "bits" with a
value of 1 or 0.  We take 200 samples in one second and
count the 1's, and this sum is recorded as the trial score.
It is expected to be near 100, but varies by chance with a
standard deviation of about 7.071.

> 2. Does it work independently of the hardware?

The REG is independent of the computer hardware.  It draws
power from the serial port, but the random number generation
is completely independent.

> 3. I have stored data for more than 1 year. How can I take 
> the wave form of the data?

That requires specialized software.  The data are stored on
your computer in a compact binary format.  Software is
available for download from the GCP server at
http://teilhard.global-mind.org/data/extract.html, click on
Basket Data File Format.  This software can be used to
translate the data into a text format.  Then you can import
the text data into a program that will calculate the wave
form.  You will need strong programming skills to do all

I don't know what the primary question is that you are
trying to answer, but I can tell you a little about what you
would find if you look at the data from your egg with a
wave-form analysis.  For example, Fourier analysis gives you
an understanding of the composition (wave form) of the data
sequence.  Fourier analysis shows in general that the GCP
data is basically white noise.  It has no "wave form" beyond
what is expected of true random data.

> 4. What area does it cover?

We do not know a final answer to this question.  Much
evidence suggests that the REG devices used in this and
related experiments can be affected by sources that are not
local.  Indeed most of our work indicates that an REG in
India is as likely as one in New York to be affected by
something like the Sept 11 2001 attacks.  There are a few
cases where it seems there is a local response, however, so
we must be patient in looking for a complete answer to your

> 5. How can you expect a software to read the consciousness?

This is certainly a good question, but it is very similar to
the question we are asking in the research.  Actually, we
do not "expect software to read consciousness" but instead,
we are researching the question whether the data from REG
devices (true random sources) might be affected by something
to do with consciousness.  Our tools are limited, and we are 
able to look only at correlations that are so subtle as to
require statistical aggregation over lots of data.
Correlations are a good start, but ultimately they do not
help identify the mechanisms that create them, except by
indicating where to look.  The indications we have show that
physical fields and forces do not affect our REG eggs, but
that consciousness seems to have some effect.  We have seen
again and again that great events that cause large numbers
of people to focus similar emotions and thoughts are related
to changes in our random data.  We see patterns where there
should be none, and these are correlated with global events.

> These questions even doctors (scientist) who visit our city 
> office are asking me.

I hope this will be helpful.  Thank you for asking the
questions.  I will add them to the FAQ.

Roger D. Nelson
Director, Global Consciousness Project
rdnelson@princeton.edu   http://teilhard.global-mind.org

On REGs, Software vs Hardware

From rdnelson@Princeton.EDU Sun Apr 25 14:31:08 2004
Date: Sun, 25 Apr 2004 14:22:00 -0400 (EDT)
From: rdnelson 
To: Vinny Pinto 
Subject: Re: A Question For You About the EGG Sensors

On Sat, 24 Apr 2004, Vinny Pinto wrote:

> Hi Roger:
> I have a quick question for you, if you will indulge me.... I understand
> that the EGGs employ as a sensor a random number generator (aka random
> event generator) to detect deviations from true randomness.  Is it your
> sense that these deviations in randomness are detected by software-based
> RNGs (using software algorithms), or only those using "noise" from discrete
> radioactive sources as measured by a GM tube and counter? In other words,
> does there seem to be a variance in sensitivity to variance of randomness
> across types of RNG technology?
> Lastly, which type (technology employed, etc.) of RNG are you currently
> employing in the EGGs?
> Thanks!
> with care,
> --Vinny

What really happens is that the random generators just do
what they are designed to do, and we then examine to
recorded output = data, to see whether it shows departures
from randomness.  The eggs aren't therefore sensors in the
usual sense -- although one can construe them that way if
the data do change in reliable correlation with the events
we assess.

The question whether deterministic random sources (computer
algorithms, etc.) are vulnerable to the effects seen in lab
experiments with physical random sources remains open. Some
experiments appear to show effects with pseudorandom
sources, others seem to show none.

The GCP uses three types of micro-electronic random sources,
all physical, and based on quantum level noise. One uses
Johnson noise, one uses an FET, with backvoltage, and one
uses a pair of diodes with backvoltage.


On Mechanisms and Definitions

Date: Mon, 21 Jun 2004 12:17:11 -0400 (EDT)
From: rdnelson 
To: John Piliounis 
Subject: Re: issues

On Mon, 21 Jun 2004, John Piliounis wrote:

> Hi Roger,
> It seems that things are running smoothly here.
> Today, as you may have already observed, I had
> to perform a routine check's shutdowns and restarts
> in some of my servers. EGG's PC went out for just
> about 2 minutes. Is this O.K. ?
> The next shutdown and restart will take place next
> October. Is this O.K. ?

Hi John,

It is certainly OK. Most eggs have down periods for a
variety of reasons, and our processing systems are
designed to work perfectly well with missing data.  Of
course the ideal is continuous data, but we live in a real
world, and there have to be routine shutdowns as well as
crashes and power outages and so on.  So no problem, and
thanks for checking.

> Roger, I'm writing an article for a Greek magazine
> on the GCP issue and I would like to have your views
> on a couple of questions, if of course that's O.K. with you:
> a) From the history of science, what was an event or a
> period that could be considered, in terms of it's impact
> to society, close to the GCP project ?

This is a difficult question. If the indications that we
have seen are fully substantiated by continuing work, and we
can conclude that the anomalous effect is "real" then the
next step is interpretation.  It is tempting to see the
"cause" as group or global consciousness, as I tend to
express it in my writing.  But there are alternatives, such
as the "Experimenter effect" where my interest and yours and
that of other egg hosts causes the effect.  That is still
scientifically interesting, but is quite different from the
idea that all of humanity becomes resonant or coherent, and
this causes the effect.

Anyway, if we are generally correct -- there is an effect of
consciousness on the behavior of physical RNG devices --
this already is a linkage of mental and physical that requires
serious consideration, and revision or expansion of our primary
scientific models.  I think our data (and there is other solid
related research) will require the inclusion of consciousness
and mind in our models of the way the world works, and this is a
huge step that science is only beginning to attempt.

> b) What would be considered the next big steps, or landmarks
> of global-wise interest and impact, on the evolution of the GCP
> and the road ahead ?

We must establish the effects with complete rigor, then communicate
the situation to the broader science community. This, if it
happens, will motivate a larger number of smart people to look
at these questions.  An old saying is "Many hands make light work."
In our case, "Many minds make enlightening insight."

> c) Are we substantiated today to say that GCP is a kind of
> communication channel with the very fabric of Creation?

It is a nice metaphor, and though it goes a step further
than I personally think is yet fully justified, it seems a
viable interpretation or implication.  I would say, however,
that we should remember that major thinkers, seers, sages, and
philosophers have always maintained that "we are all one",
that we are thoughts in the mind of God (or some equivalent
expression.) What we are finding, thus, is not really new,
but only a new perspective on an old wisdom.

> d) Is it possible that at the end of GCP's road, if one, to
> find not only  that the traditional God is dead but also that
> we are all, along with the rest of the nature, members of his
> or her nature ?

Yes, I think the last part of what you say is a reasonable
extrapolation. It isn't necessary to make the first claim --
that God is dead.
> Roger, according to the definition of  White Noise in many
> scientific papers, among them Texas Instruments "Op Amps
> for Everyone" - Design Reference, page 10-11, 10th line from
> the end ".... By definition, white noise would have infinite energy
> at infinite frequencies. ......" , it seems that white noise is considered
> as the echo of the continuous creation process.
> If quantum foam (aether was called at the past) is the tank that at
> infinite FQs creates and absorbs matter that then is forming or deforming
> us and everything else in the universe, it seems that it has all the energy it
> needs to maintain this process in our observable universe. Infinite FQs
> of creation and decomposition are well beyond the ability of our perception
> since this is and we are a derivative of those FQs. But the echo is observable
> and as I suspect exploitable.
> I was thinking of this last night and I have start forming a hypothetical
> mechanism on this.
> What do you think on this? Does it seem too exotic or unreal?
> Best,
> John

I love the efforts to put ideas together, even though it is
in many cases -- like this one -- very difficult to
determine whether the resulting notions are correct or even
steps in the right direction.  It is important to be
thinking about the fundamental issues and mechanisms, and I
am very pleased to hear your ideas.  My own special focus
is empirical, with the mission of providing solid
information to theoretical thinkers.  I do have a feeling
for what makes sense as a useful direction (and conversely,
what may be a blind alley), so I can contribute best by
helping to shape the direction of inquiry.  As for infinite
FQ's, there are some useful precedents in such thinking.
One is David Bohm (implicate order, active information fields)
and more recently Hal Puthoff (zero point fluctuation).
You might like to look them up.


More on Definitions and Theory

Date: Wed, 30 Jun 2004 22:42:28 -0400 (EDT)
From: rdnelson 
To: Jonathan Rowson
Subject: Re: Global Consciousness Project

On Wed, 30 Jun 2004, [iso-8859-1] Jonathan Rowson wrote:

> Dear Roger,
> Thanks very much for getting back to me - I have noted the two suggestions.
> My editor expressed some interest in the idea and I'm working on trying to 
> make the global consciousness project intelligible and engaging without 
> violating the integrity of the research. I have a few queries below - this is 
> partly a way of helping myself to get clearer on the issues, but if you feel 
> like answering any of them I would be very grateful.
> Einstein's dictum that "everything should be as simple as it can be, and no 
> simpler" seems to apply acutely to the GCP. Even so I would like to 
> understand it well enough that I can speak of it in plain English, even 
> if I can't necessarily speak about it without a deeper understanding of 
> statistics.

I would like to follow that dictum, but the data present
a tangled skein still, with lots of work to pick out the
subtle patterns and root out mistakes and prejudices. This
will not be simple in the sense of physics. Mind is big and
> The biggest problem I have is understanding exactly what the REGs measure. 
> For instance, can you say what 'quantum indeterminate noise' is, or is this a 
> technical term to refer to the output of the REGs? If it's the latter, I have 
> trouble equating 'noise', however subtle, with the random output of computer 
> software...

The REGs just produce numbers in a sequence that is designed
and expected to be random. When we say "measure" it is in reference
to the discovery or identification of patterns where there should be
none in these sequences. The REGs are physical devices, not
computer algorithms. The fundamental process in most REGs we
use is electron tunneling, where there is a miniscule
fluctuating voltage produced when a circuit is arranged to
apply potential against the design direction for electrical
flow in a diode or transistor. This voltage is an
accumulation of electrons that have penetrated a barrier by
a process that is classically forbidden, but permitted in
quantum theory (and in reality). The penetration (quantum
tunneling) by an electron is utterly unpredictable, and
consequently so is the voltage that we sample and convert
to 1's and 0's according to its momentary level.
> In terms of exposition of the GCP, the problem seems to be comparing EEGs 
> which measure electrical activation in the brain, and 'EGGs' which measure 
> something other than electricity, outside of the brain. On an allegorical 
> level (and therefore a level where it is easy to misunderstand!) it seems 
> that 'gaia' is the brain and these REGs measure the 'electricity' of the 
> world in the form of 'noise' even though it's not actually physical noise, 
> but rather statistical noise(?). When I think of major world events I think 
> of them as 'noisy' - any normal measure of noise would almost certainly 
> increase - but that wouldn't be interesting - so what is it about this 
> 'noise' that makes it interesting?

You are asking good questions that are at this point the subject
of speculation but not explanation. I think your description,
or allegory, is a good start. Maybe the effects we see are
changes in the "noise" in fields of information associated
with gaia, or with large groups of people, or a combination of
contributions we don't yet fathom. Maybe when something
causes focus, when the thoughts and emotions of large
numbers of people become correlated, the noise changes in the
sense that it is less noisy -- which means in our case that
complete randomness gives way to subtle structure.
Our "measures" are merely the detection of such structure
(again, where there should be none).

As you see, your notion and mine about what would happen to
the noisy chatter in the world as a result of major events
actually point in opposite directions. (We actually are
talking about different "noise" I think.)  It's a worthwhile
question, which I think about of course, but my guess is the
first necessity will be whipping that question into a more
lucid shape, with better recognition of our assumptions, etc.
> As you can see, while I am interested in the GCP on its own terms, I am 
> also interested in how to communicate its findings in a way that captures a 
> discerning imagination. I would dearly like to do this in an accurate and 
> compelling way.
> As an example of where I come unstuck, there is a reference on your site 
> to the developments in 1993.... "Typically the advice (laptop with 
> portable REG) is brought in to a group situation, TO RECORD DATA 
> continuously in the background while the participants are engaged with 
> each other or the ongoing events.
> What I need to understand is the relationship between 'the data' and 'the 
> group'. I realise that this is the issue at stake, and that consciousness may 
> be part of the answer, but I don't really understand the question because I 
> don't understand the premise - i.e. I still don't understand is what 'the 
> data' actually is.

As before, the data are random numbers generated by the
physical REG device attached to the computer, and recorded
in files by custom software. We have most often used
"trials" collected/recorded at one per second, consisting of
200 bits, which are summed to produce a number around 100.
We know the nature of the numbers, characterized by their
statistical distribution, and the "relationship between the data
and the group" is empirical. In the lab we predict a correlation
of the defined event (e.g., an intention to get high numbers) with
a specified pattern (a shift of the mean toward high numbers).
In the case of the "FieldREG" experiments with the portable
REG and laptop, we predict a correlation of a special state
of group consciousness (coherent or resonant focus) with a
statistical pattern in the data.  That's it.  We don't know
any "mechanism" to explain the relationship. We just have
the empirical fact that the correlations we predict as our
hypothesis test in the experimental design do occur.
> Moreover, it is written that "eggs are computers running software to 
> collect a 200-bit sample once per second from an attached REG...."
> What exactly is being collected - a string of numbers? - numbers that seem 
> utterly meaningless and without causal significance until they are 
> archived and analysed. Where is this being 'collected' - it's on the 
> computer but is the computer taking it from anywhere, or is the idea of 
> spatial contiguity misleading?

The REG produces electronic noise that is the high frequency
varying voltage I described above. That is sampled at a
a rate of some thousands of samples per second, and when the
sample voltage is above its mean the circuit produces a digital 1,
and when it is below, a digital 0. We collect a sequence of
these 1's and 0's in trials, typically of 200 bits. These
trials are summed and stored, resulting in a sequence of numbers
normally distributed with mean 100 and variance 50, collected at
one per second continuously.  In the GCP, this happens at
each of the ~65 nodes in the network, resulting in a continuous
swath of random numbers 65 columns wide, with a new row each
second, 24 hours, 7 days a week, for months and years.
> Maybe I am on the wrong track, but is the following metaphor useful?
> If there was a character condemned by the Gods to roam around the globe 
> and toss a coin forever, at times when 'global consciousness' is most 
> focused (like 9/11), he would suddenly notice that there was a suble 
> pattern to the results of his tosses. Moreover, he would come to realise 
> that this came about, inadvertently, from the fact that people directed 
> their attention in a certain way. At present, his coin tosses are linked 
> to human consciousness in a way that we, and this unfortunate character, 
> can't understand... (This is pushing the allegory to the point of 
> indulgence - but) perhaps such a 'character' could only be freed from his 
> fate when we learn how to make his coin tosses non-random - thus rendering 
> his task obsolete.

It's an apt metaphor; indeed I don't know why you think you
have "pushed the allegory" too far. Even the "freedom when we
learn how" works for me. When that finally happens in our research,
we will no longer need the term "anomalous" and we will be
able to just do science, maybe even engineering.
> I'll keep working at it, and if you feel you can't answer my questions 
> directly I would be grateful if you can direct me to a helpful source or two.
> Thanks again,
> Jonathan.

I've done the best I can with your series of questions. There is a 
literature of parapsychology, which you may already know.  
You know the PEAR lab resource. If you don't know Dean Radin's work,
that's worth your time.

> rdnelson  wrote:
> On Wed, 30 Jun 2004, [iso-8859-1] Jonathan Rowson wrote:
> > Dear Roger Nelson,
> >
> > I made reference to the global consciousness project in a short 
> > feedback paper published on the following Harvard web site: It is 
> > the fourth article down entitled:
> > "What they world needs now is more eggs"
> >
> > http://gseweb.harvard.edu/~t656_web/peace/Damocles/April_7.htm
> >
> > I also make reference to your work in an extended article on the 
> > same site(near the end): Do we need a scientific revolution to 
> > create world peace?
> >
> > http://gseweb.harvard.edu/~t656_web/peace/Articles_Spring_2003/Rowson_Jonathan_Stress.htm
> Both articles do a good job summarizing the GCP. There are a
> couple of points that you might want to address: You give
> the location of the server as Princeton, USA, and since
> there are a dozen or more Princetons in the US, you should
> say Princeton, NJ. The second issue is a bit more
> substantial: We don't have any reason to believe more eggs
> would give us better or more complete results, and are not
> now looking for volunteers to add to the network unless we
> have an offer to host in a part of the world with little or
> no coverage.
> We have analysed a number of more recent events, including
> the ones you ask about. They are all listed in the table at
> http://teilhard.global-mind.org/results.html
> Your sceptical editor will probably remain sceptical, but I
> wish you well. The GCP evidence is complex in the sense that
> there is no 1 to 1 correspondence (always true in
> statistically based research) between the events and
> results -- the same type of "stimulus" will not always
> produce the same "response". Only the long run of gradually
> accumulating evidence is persuasive, and that demands a
> patient attitude that is rare in sceptics who often prefer
> a hammer and nail model over one of subtle correlations.
> I appreciate your approach, careful, but encouraging. I
> agree that we need to be willing to go beyond our ingrained
> habits of thinking. Proactively imagining a better future
> must be worth trying.
> Best,
> Roger

> >
> > A wise man, describing his inner life, spoke of a battle between 
> > two dogs-one good and generous; the other petty and selfish. 
> > On being aksed which dog tended to win this battle he paused, 
> > and replied: the one I feed the most.
> > -Native American story
> >

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