It’s no secret that major world events send ripples of collective emotion through communities—witness the outpourings of grief and charity after 9-11, the Southeast Asian tsunami and Hurricane Katrina—but what if those ripples could be felt without the aid of TV broadcasts and Web news reports? What if such events made a psychic impression independent of any sort of human communication? Sounds like a bunch of New-Age hooey, but researchers at Princeton University, and one graduate of NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications program, are exploring the possibility with the help of random number generators.
Without going into too much detail about the Princeton project (you can read more about it at the link below), researchers found, over the course of a 30-year project, that during significant global events, random number generators present statistical anomalies that could conceivably be chalked up to changes in the collective human consciousness.
Even if you’re skeptical about this hypothesis, NYU grad Rob Seward’s thesis project, the “Consciousness Field Resonator,” is worthy of attention. Seward built a random-number generator (housed in a handsome copper box) that hangs on the wall and alerts users of statistical anomalies with a series of bright lights. When the lights flash, you’re left to wonder what’s causing the alert. Is it the bombing in Lebanon or Iraq? A World Cup victory? Shiloh Jolie-Pitt’s birthday? Whole new systems of superstition could be built around this thing. Sure, it’s art first and foremost, but it’s also a really interesting use of technology and a kick-ass DIY project. Download instructions for making your own here. —Megan Miller