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Google vs. iCloud: Which wins the pick for your pics?

Cult of Mac - 1 hour 1 min ago
One of the best things to come out of Google’s I/O keynote on Thursday was Google Photos, a brand new service for storing, sharing, and organizing your images and videos. It’s totally free — no matter how many items you…Read more ›

What iPhone would have looked like back in 1984

Cult of Mac - 1 hour 32 min ago
Apple has become the most valuable company in the world thanks to the incredible success of the iPhone. Over half a billion iPhones have been sold since the original was released in 2007, but do you ever wonder what the…Read more ›

Kahney’s Korner: Addicted to ASMR

Cult of Mac - 1 hour 46 min ago
You know something’s up at Cult of Mac headquarters when you see Leander sitting with his fingers steepled, exuding an air of complete calm. It’s like a zen garden around here ever since I told him about ASMR videos, the…Read more ›

Meet Ingress, your new augmented reality obsession

Cult of Mac - 2 hours 27 min ago
I went outside for the first time today. Working at home is an easy way to get a bad case of couchlock, so I like to try and get out for little 15 minute breaks when I can. Today was…Read more ›

This robot leaps hurdles like a Terminator horse

Cult of Mac - 2 hours 56 min ago
Okay, so it’s not really Apple news, but — honestly — who could complain about a robot cheetah on a Friday afternoon? Given Google’s disappointing lack of killer robots at its oddly boring I/O keynote yesterday, MIT has fortunately stepped up to…Read more ›

Big Bang Theory goes from fiction to fact with new scholarship

Cult of Mac - 4 hours 1 min ago
Nerds and geeks alike are satirized and celebrated in CBS’s hit television show The Big Bang Theory, which has aired since 2007. The very same intelligent kids that the show lionizes will now have a chance to study science, technology,…Read more ›

Why Google’s I/O keynote was a massive disappointment

Cult of Mac - 4 hours 32 min ago
I had been looking forward to the Google I/O keynote for weeks before it kicked off Thursday. I was rubbing my hands together like a little kid on Christmas morning when Sundar Pichai, Google’s senior vice president, took to the…Read more ›

Hands Free by Google could be way better than Apple Pay

Cult of Mac - 4 hours 50 min ago
Yesterday’s Android Pay reveal at Google I/O was a slight disappointment in that, it’s pretty much just like Apple Pay. Google added pretty much zero innovation to Apple’s idea that debuted last year, but what the company didn’t show us,…Read more ›

How to annoy your Facebook friends with GIFs

Cult of Mac - 5 hours 20 min ago
Facebook and GIFs seem like they’ve both been fixtures of the Internet forever, but it has taken until 2015 for the two to finally hookup. Starting today, Facebook users can annoy friends with the most amazing GIFs the web has…Read more ›

Jumpstart a new career in IT management and security with 4 essential exam trainings [Deals]

Cult of Mac - 5 hours 47 min ago
Thinking about a new career in IT management and security, but not sure where to start? We’ve made it easy. This bundle from iCollege packages together four essential certification courses that train you exactly on what you need to know.…Read more ›

Jony Ive chooses his successors, this week on The CultCast

Cult of Mac - 8 hours 3 sec ago
This week: Jony Ive’s big promotion has him handing over the keys to Apple’s legendary industral design lab, so we have to wonder… is this step one in an Ive succession plan? Plus: the surprising suitability of Ive’s replacement, Richard…Read more ›

More than half of Tidal’s founders may have to pull their own music

Cult of Mac - 8 hours 55 min ago
  7 of the 15 artists with an ownership stake in Jay Z’s troubled Tidal streaming music service may have their music pulled from it as a result of Jay Z failing to reach a music licencing agreement with Sony,…Read more ›

Attention Tim Cook: Your instant Mac museum is just $300,000 away

Cult of Mac - 9 hours 2 min ago
One man’s astonishing collection of Apple gear is for sale on eBay right now, making an instant Mac museum just a click away for the right bidder. The auction starts at $100,000, with a Buy It Now price of $300,000…Read more ›

Apple has published its official workaround for Messages bug

Cult of Mac - 9 hours 31 min ago
If you’ve been online or, frankly, any school or office over the past week, chances are you’ve heard about the iOS bug which lets users send a string of text via messages to another iPhone owner which causes their Messages app…Read more ›

Why Jony Ive’s promotion means more design, not less

Cult of Mac - 10 hours 2 min ago
Apple is such a strange and secretive company, the news that Jony Ive has been promoted is instead widely interpreted that he’s on his way out. The Telegraph revealed Monday that Ive has been promoted to Chief Design Officer and…Read more ›

Debunking Charlie

Augoeides - 10 hours 2 min ago
So a couple days ago I posted an article on the "Charlie Challenge," a method for allegedly summoning a spirit using two pencils that went viral. In my article, I noted that if it worked, it might be usable as system for spirit communication that did not involve the ideomotor response, which is what makes pendulums and planchettes seem to move on their own. Last night I did some experiments with the two-pencil method, and concluded that it doesn't work. At least, not in the way that I posited.

First off, I determined that the pencil generally won't spin in response to vibrations in the room. That was one of my initial thoughts about how and why the pencil might be moving. One of the videos, for example, shows a couple of kids sitting in a kitchen bouncing a basketball on the floor. But when I set the pencils up on my desk I found that I was able to hit the surface quite hard without making the pencil on top spin at all. The best I could do was a slight wobble without sliding the desk.

My next thought was to apply Qigong methods and see if I could make the pencils spin that way. I previously have had some success with an Egeley Wheel along those lines, which was designed based on the observation that Qigong masters seem to be able to affect the rotation of leaves suspended in water. I should note here that this isn't necessarily a supernatural effect, as Chinese researchers have measured infrasonic waves being emitted from the hands of Qigong practitioners. But like my vibration tests this was a bust as well, with no noticeable effect.

I finally happened upon what I believe to be the mechanism. Moving air at just the right angle will make the pencil spin dramatically. It's not obvious, though. If the angle is off you can blow as hard as you want and it won't move. Likewise, if the angle is right even a slight breeze will work, whereas if it's wrong even a strong breeze won't do anything. Air movement is obviously going to be a factor outdoors, but forced-air furnaces also produce moving air. In a home with such a system, if the pencils are placed in the right spot they will move when the fan comes on.

Otherwise, breathing at the right angle will do the trick as well. I can imagine a bunch of teenagers calling out to "Charlie" and scrutinizing the pencils closely. As soon as somebody gets excited enough to start breathing hard, sure enough, the pencil on top will spin. I will add, though, that as with a breeze the angle seems to be very important. Just blowing on the pencil doesn't do it unless your breath hits it just right. Furthermore, the angle at which it needs to strike is not what you would expect, and at that angle it can work from further away than you would normally think.

The difference between how you would expect moving air to effect the pencil and how it really takes place probably explains the "supernatural" appearance of the method. The teenagers involved in this likely don't necessarily notice that they're breathing hard, and don't realize it when their breath hits the proper angle. So what this implies is that method probably won't work as a system for spirit communication - which is too bad, but at the same time I imagine that if it was usable some magician would have talked about it before now.

The apparent nature of this practice does highlight one of my problems with capital-S skeptics. Whenever they are confronted with something that looks paranormal, their first response is to accuse whoever is reporting it of lying or perpetrating an outright fraud. But, in fact, most experiences that people identify as paranormal are normal experiences that they misinterpret for various reasons. It's easy to dismiss accounts outright, but much more revealing to investigate them in a sincere manner.

I may still see about trying the pencil method in a formal ritual, but given the shifts I see on my EMF meter when spirits show up, my suspicion is that they won't be able to generate enough physical energy to produce noticeable movement. That's still just a working hypothesis, though, and if my tests turn out differently I'll be sure to keep you all posted.

Categories: Occulture

Cardboard is the new Google Glass of looking silly in public

Cult of Mac - May 28, 2015 - 8:39pm
Google announced a new version of its low-cost Cardboard virtual-reality headsets today at its I/O developers conference, and it’s giving some attendees a wicked case of déjà vu. Ashley Mayer, cloud-storage company Box’s director of communications, was in attendance at…Read more ›

Only your ears can save you in this creepy horror game

Cult of Mac - May 28, 2015 - 7:58pm
Imagine exploring a creepy house full of eerie and unfamiliar sounds, supernatural horror dripping from every bannister and behind every mysterious, creaking door. Now imagine entering such a disturbing environment when you’re blind. Cassie is the blind young protagonist of…Read more ›

This cool gadget puts the weather outside into a box on your desk

Cult of Mac - May 28, 2015 - 7:40pm
The best way to check the weather is usually pulling up an app or website, turning on a TV, or simply going to a window and looking outside. But what if you had a gorgeous device on your desk that…Read more ›

How to hide your location from Facebook stalkers

Cult of Mac - May 28, 2015 - 7:23pm
Anyone you exchange messages with via Facebook Messenger could know where you’ve been at any point. Chatted with your boss? He could use a newly discovered hack to figure out your sick days weren’t spent at home. Facebook intern Aran…Read more ›


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