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One of the way I amuse myself is by keeping a list of scientific papers which amuse me – my lol file.

Look Ma, no hands One of the way I amuse myself is by keeping a list of scientific papers which amuse me – my lol file. Over the years, this has thrown up such classics as Laughing rats are optimistic, The hidden menace of non-equine horses and Walking with coffee: Why does it spill?. [To preserve the more delicate sensibilities of our readers, I have deliberately omitted the more pornographic titles from my collection – you’ll have to find your own.] Recently, I came across a new gem in a peer reviewed journal. After checking it was not published on April 1st (it wasn’t), I pondered whether to add it to my lol file or whether, as the authors claim, “Revealing the cause of this phenomenon would advance modern science greatly.”

What do you think?

Takagi, O., Sakamoto, M., Kokubo, H., Yoichi, H., Kawano, K., & Yamamoto, M. (2013) Meditator’s non-contact effect on cucumbers. International Journal, 8(15), 647-651
We clearly show the existence of an example of non-contact effect in which the “presence” of a meditator affects bio-samples without physical contact. This is the first report in the world to show this type of effect by scientific measurements. We used edible cucumber slices as bio-sensors and measured the concentrations of gas emitted from the slices by a technique developed by our group. The concentrations of gas emitted from cucumber slices were measured for a total of 672 sample petri dishes; each dish contained four cucumber slices so that a statistically meaningful comparison could be made. We found a statistically significant difference (p=3.13×10-10, t-test, two-tails) in the concentrations of emitted gas between the “presence” and the “absence” of the meditator. Our experimental results clearly indicated that there was a scientifically measurable effect on biological objects with which the meditator had no direct physical contact.

AJ Cann

Alan Cann is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Leicester and formerly Internet Consulting Editor for AoB.


  • The conclusion from Bennett, Wolford and Miller (2009) from many investigators would be that dead salmon can see, or, to give a highly selective quote from the paper “Using standard acquisition, preprocessing and analysis techniques, we were able to show that active voxel clusters could be observed in the dead salmon’s brain” with MRI. Presumably the same conclusion could be made from a plant.


    Paper: Craig M. Bennett, George L. Wolford, and Michael B. Miller
    The principled control of false positives in neuroimaging
    Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci (2009) 4(4): 417-422 doi:10.1093/scan/nsp053

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