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JS: One of the less well-known phenomena you looked into, in those days, was the so-called Hutchison Effect [see FT92:25], in which a Canadian inventor, John Hutchison, claimed to be able to create some kind of previously undescribed force that could levitate objects, among other things.
JA: George Hathaway, a Canadian electrical engineer, came down to Washington with a friend of Hutchison’s named Alex Pezarro, and showed us an 8-millimetre film they had made of Hutchison’s phenomena. And on this tape there wasn’t just one thing going on that on its own might have been explained easily – there were a host of things going on.
For instance, there was a rat-tail file, held between two wooden boards, that lit up like an incandescent light and actually burned, although according to Hathaway and Pezarro it didn’t burn the wooden boards. And they said that as soon as the power went off, the file was cold. There also were things that apparently levitated.
There were pieces of case-hardened steel that went soft as lead at one end. And Hathaway and Pezarro said that they were witnesses to many events. We said, okay, can you replicate it? And we paid them to work with Hutchison to do that, and at a certain point we sent a couple of guys up there from Los Alamos [National Laboratory] and some others from INSCOM.
I arrived a day early, and they said, wow, we just had levitation, and we just turned the system off, haven’t touched a thing. So the idea was that the next day we’d turn it back on when the scientists came. Well, the scientists came and they turned it back on and absolutely nothing happened. Except that the power supply caught fire. They took a day to get a new one in, and turned it on and we watched – and again, nothing happened.
JS: You never knew what to make of it?
JA: I think events happened, but I can’t explain them. My key question to Hutchison was: “Are you part of the system?” Because I suspected that these were poltergeist-type phenomena. One of the usual factors in poltergeist phenomena is emotionally disturbed people.
And when I knew him, Hutchison was on methadone. By the way, all this had started because he liked to sit in the dark and watch sparks. So he had set up Van de Graaf generators and Tesla coils and Jacob’s Ladders and stuff like that. He said that the effects he initially came up with were accidental. And when I asked him whether he was part of the system, he said, “Yes.” So I really wondered if what we had was a guy doing poltergeist phenomena in a lab. At the time at INSCOM I already had been looking into psychokinesis.