16) T. Galen Hieronymus

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Thomas Galen Hieronymus’ career spanned the era between the beginning of commercial radio and the modern era of radionics. In many ways, his work is a synthesis of the two sides of radionics, the speculative, occult side and the empirical, scientific one. He spoke knowledgeably about applied subtle energy, using the term “eloptic,” meaning energy + light emanations he detected coming from physical materials. He also coined the term “nionic-nerve influencing energy” for emanations from live organisms.

These unusual descriptions of radionic emanations did not prevent him from obtaining the first U.S. Patent for a radionics detector [#2,482,773] in 1949. Nor did he ever run afoul of the authorities or academia; in fact he was made a fellow of both the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers and the American Institute of Electrical Engineers.

The high comfort level with authority rested upon his solid credentials. He served in the Rainbow Division, A.E.F. in WWI and later graduated from officer’s candidate school. For 30 years, he was a professional engineer working for the Kansas City Power and Light Co. He is credited with designing the phase locking system that connects power stations across the country. He was also a licensed radio operator, later becoming a Senior Member in the Institute of Radio Engineers. Generally speaking, such highly influential positions were reserved exclusively for the brightest and best in his profession.

His work in electronics coupled with a lifelong interest in metaphysics led him to the forefront of what came to be called “psionic devices” or “psychotronic technology” in his later years; these appliances were dependent upon the psychic (PK) energy of the mind to operate.

One other reason Hieronymus was held in such high professional esteem and remained un-censured for his radionics work was because he used his skill in radionics to assist regulatory authorities like the FDA and to solve complicated problems for Big Business. This was especially true when it came to the analysis of substances – in the era before the electron microscope. An example of this assistance comes from my personal conversations with a colleague, Bob Beautlich, regarding work Hieronymus performed for the 3M Company.

At that time 3M was in product development for the now famous product “Sticky Tape.” While the glue adhered properly to the tape in laboratory trials, when produced in mass quantities the glue was coming off the celluloid. Hieronymus was asked to use his patented radionics device to analyze the problem. He discovered that a trace element of a solvent previously carried in the container trucks transporting the chemicals was contaminating the adhesive. It had not been detected by normal methods because the trace amounts causing the problem were below what any other methodology could detect. When the containers were changed, the glue stayed on the tape.

Because he was savvy in understanding of the dangers of radionics research, he was able to keep close contact with the authorities on the legal parameters of his research. Even his Patent, titled “Detection of Emanations from Materials and Measurements of the Volumes Thereof” was couched in language designed to be acceptable to mechanistic models and reviewers. Yet his actual research couldn’t have been more anachronistic to the mechanist credo.

Hieronymus began working in radio in 1913. After he received his license, he began working with KDKA in Pittsburgh, Pa., where he took part in the first-ever public radio broadcast. As a radio operator and electrical engineer with the Rainbow Division in France during World War I, he worked to develop a wireless telephone. It was there that he observed certain metals and minerals had unusual properties or emanations, a discovery that led him to radionics.

By 1930, Hieronymus was working with radionics inventor J. W. Wigelsworth to improve the Pathoclast, the successor to Abrams’ Oscilloclast. The Pathoclast was considered to be “the most advanced condenser-tuned radionic instrument ever made,” incorporating vacuum tubes for amplification and other electronic features. It is also important to realize that by the time Hieronymus began designing his own version of the Pathoclast for Wigelsworth, mainstream doctors had adopted radionic-type therapies for clinical diagnosis and treatment throughout the country. In retrospect, one can sense a fusion occurring of homeopathic medical principles with electronic gear. For that period in the 1920s and 1930s, there seemed every reason to believe that radionic medical devices were evolving into a modern form of medical instrumentation. It was this favorable climate that clearly made the issuing of the Hieronymus patent possible.

In addition, the grassroots success of the Pathoclast/Radionics technology must also be considered when it comes to comprehending what Hieronymus faced later on in his career when his patent was popularized in a famous 1950s science fiction magazine. By then, Hieronymus had already witnessed thirty years of medical successes using these technologies across America. A great deal of technical evolution in radionics had occurred in the interim, with a large number of highly respected electrical engineers and instrument designers providing expertise and experimental insights. The world of radionics that Hieronymus entered in the late 1920s and early 1930s was an exciting place, as this fast developing, non-invasive, revolutionary medical technology had universal appeal. He was in the vanguard and was well positioned professionally to advance a technology being created as quickly as the healing successes were being reported. Before him lay a business venture that was successfully providing quick and inexpensive health care to ordinary people.

Aside from the history, it is informative to look at the nature of radionics in this period from the vantage point of art. Art movements often begin with a renegade group of artists following a course of action in conflict with the status quo. They self-organize and collectively begin to project their ideas upon the world. Individual artists with little else in common discover a common theme; soon they begin to articulate and develop ideas from one another, cross-pollinating their efforts. The radical nature of their ideas is often the key to their success. But both medicine and science, unlike art, have much more efficient means of policing their turf and squashing dissent.


Another parallel of radionic technique to artistic technique lies in examining how intent becomes focused and realized through instrumentation. In the 1920s and 1930s, the radionic inventors seemed relatively comfortable with the notion that their technology functioned much as an artist’s brush does for the artist. A certain amount of intent is required, which is then tuned through the instruments influencing a medium to produce a desired outcome. By the 1940s and 1950s, when Abstract Expressionism was overturning representational art, substituting impulse for carefully crafted imagery, radionics was developing a more intuitive and energetic approach to healing, where the curative process seemed to proceed far more from releasing and balancing natural forces than from any set of mechanical medical skills. At that time, medicine linking the intuitive guidance and skill of the doctor to a device inexpensively resonating with the curative forces of nature seemed highly desirable.

By the early 1950s, Hieronymus was also collaborating with Brigadier-General Henry M. Gross (Ret.) in Pennsylvania and the Homeotronic Foundation (of U.K.A.C.O. fame) on the development of agricultural radionics. It is at this point that radionics, and Hieronymus in particular, had their famous brush with popular culture. Coincidentally, the notoriety given the success of radionics in destroying predatory insects in controlled agricultural experiments briefly brought radionic theory and technology to the attention of big business and science. The fascinating details of these circumstances will be examined shortly.

It is important to realize something about what the Hieronymus patent represented at this time. As the power of the American Medical Association grew and the allopathic medical model became dominant, radionics pioneers and other alternative health and agricultural innovators were systematically persecuted for introducing and practicing what was considered pseudo-scientific bunk. But the better the radionic techniques, the higher their rate of cures, which exponentially increased professional animosity from the establishment. In the midst of this struggle, Hieronymus and his colleagues were trying to establish a scientific basis for the way these instruments worked, even accepting the fact they employed the skill of the operator’s mind. Even the most dedicated and pragmatic of instrument designers believed that it was only a matter of time before science confirmed their suspicions that a new form of energy was being engineered.

While many radionics inventors were being persecuted, a host of other bright scientific minds were clamoring for a better scientific understanding of life energy and consciousness. J.B. Rhine of Duke University was busy making a statistical case for the existence of parapsychology and psychic ability in general. Carl Jung in Switzerland was exploring the landscape of the unconscious and linking alchemical knowledge to dream psychology and art. Harold Saxton Burr of Yale and Leonard J. Ravitz Jr. were measuring the life or “L” field of all living things with sensitive voltmeters. Robert Rosenthal of Harvard was demonstrating that bias, or the thoughts of an experimenter, could influence the behavior of laboratory rats. And, as mentioned before, S.W. Tromp, a geologist from the Netherlands, published the first scientific review of dowsing and radiesthesia entitled, Psychical Physics, in 1949.

In prior decades, German scientists Gurwitsch, Stempell, Rahn and others were publishing papers about their discovery that living matter produces volatile components and radiation that could pass through selective membranes and act on colloidal substances, even without direct contact. In 1944, Soviet scientist V. S. Grischenko raised the possibility of a fifth state of matter termed “bioplasm” existing in living organisms. Much later, in 1962, physiologist L. L. Vasiliev at the University of Leningrad published a comparable study, his 178-page monograph Experiments in Mental Suggestion. The Russian work was taken up later at Columbia University by three scientists, I. I. Rabi, P. Kusch, and S. Millman, who developed an apparatus that “conclusively proved that some kind of ray or vibrations pass between one molecule and another.”

Joseph F. Goodavage’s article, “The Incredible Hieronymus Machine” in John White and Stanley Krippner’s book Future Science elaborated on their discoveries: “They showed that each molecule, living or inert, is a small radio transmitter (and receiver) that broadcasts continuously. These waves range over the entire electromagnetic spectrum--often beyond! The sheer volume of these vibrations is apparently limitless. A single molecule can give off rays of a million different wavelengths, but only on one frequency at a time.” Popular sentiment, supported by universal experience, was at long last pressuring scientists into exploring venues outside the mechanistic/ reductionism credo advanced in most academic quarters. At the same time, other researchers, actually helping people with these ideas, were facing ruined careers or even prison. The possibility of a non-material, biologically active force present in space was generally taken for granted, if not officially condoned, by the early 1950s in many quarters. It was through this medium that consciousness and paranormal phenomena were thought to operate. Hieronymus cleverly put a simple description of this force in his patent: “radiations from each of the known elements of matter produce some form of energy, probably electrons.” He went further by including a prism in the design through which “the radiations may be refracted, focused, diffracted, or otherwise manipulated in the same manner as the radiations of the visible spectrum.”

This patent clearly gave language to a force that was not strictly electronic, opening a door once again to the scientific investigation of radionics as an instrument utilizing subtle energy.

Hieronymus’ references to light in his patent have a direct relationship to some of his agricultural radionics investigations. In particular, he had experimented with growing plants in complete darkness with only a copper wire to the outdoors to conduct energy from the sun. A full account of this experiment in Hieronymus’ own words appears in numerous online sites dedicated to his research. In a nutshell, Hieronymus became convinced that he was measuring a solar influence other than light. This force was received by living organisms and could be transmitted over certain types of conductors and insulated by others, much like electricity. The developing radionic current analogy to light achieved greater significance through the evidence of radionic photography.

Unlike its mechanistic counterparts, eloptic energy could be influenced by consciousness and required human sensitivity to be detected. Hieronymus, to his credit, never skirted this issue. His patent clearly states that his apparatus “preferably relies upon the element of touch and, therefore, the skill of the operator.”

US Patent #2,482,773

Contemporary writers on Hieronymus, such as engineer William D. Jensen provide additional insight into exactly what allowed the Hieronymus device to obtain a U.S. Patent: “Dr. Thomas Galen Hieronymus has the unique distinction of having the only US patent of a psychically operating machine. At first glance, what he invented was a machine to detect the type and quantity of any material matter under scrutiny, by analyzing the previously unknown ‘eloptic’ radiation that seemed to emanate from all materials. No one had ever thought of such a machine, and mainstream science is perplexed that his patented device does indeed work. His secret ingredient was that the experimenter became a part of his own machine, bridging the real and psychic worlds.”

W.D. Jensen, in an article posted on the internet entitled “Preliminary Report on the Patented Hieronymus Machine” continues: “Patent number 2,482,773 was awarded in 1949, after three years of very careful consideration by the United States Patent Office. There are strict criteria that must be satisfied before a patent is awarded. A ‘utility patent’ for a machine must be something new, unusual, and unobvious. These points are easy to satisfy. In addition, the invention had to be useful for at least one believable thing that could not be done before. He did not need to explain ‘How’ it worked, only to prove ‘That’ it worked, sufficiently enough to have undeniable merit. Under extraordinary cases, where an invention seems to defy the basic precepts of science, extra proof is requested by the Patent Office. Hieronymus backed up his claims with live plant experiments, and made working models of his invention.

“Traditionally, psychic machines fall under the Para-psychological field of Psychotronics. Radionics is a specialized field within Psychotronics where the machines have electronic components that operate in the region of radio waves. There are two basic types of radionic instruments: Receivers and Transmitters. The patented Hieronymus machine is a Receiver instrument, also known as a Detector. It amplifies and detects the presence of Eloptic rays which occur at different vibrational frequencies coming naturally out of elements, like channel signals on a radio. Hieronymus also made Transmitters of Eloptic radiation, sometimes called Eloptic Beam Projectors, or Eloptic Radiators. They projected specific frequencies of Eloptic radiation into materials, and living things. These transmitters could be made to store the radiation in alcohol or other materials.

“What we have from the Patent is a working model of a psychically operating machine. From tests by Hieronymus and other independent researchers, the machine will work for 80% of the population. The percentage is even higher if you have the will and desire to be successful with the machine. This is a phenomenal rate of success in a psychic experiment.

“But the story doesn’t end there. It has been found that each of the subsystems in the machine can be unbelievably generic, replaced by symbolic representations, or eliminated altogether. What this might mean is that as the machine is built to contain fewer parts in the material world, psychic parts within the experimenters themselves replace them, as they gain proficiency. But few individuals are immediately able to operate it with proficiency. Thus, the device is an objective incremental teaching tool that can provide a fundamental starting point for the psychic studies in Radiesthesia, dowsing, clairvoyance, remote-viewing, interdimensional communication, healing, etc.”

Three Bank Hieronymus Radionics device

Other writers on psychotronics, like Col. Thomas Bearden, have tried to illuminate the issue of exactly what a Hieronymus device is detecting by using the language of modern physics. Ever so slowly, we see emerging a linguistic attempt to bridge the divide between energy perceived as “in the mind” versus energy “in nature.” Bearden, in a section entitled “Typical Hieronymus Detector” from his book Excalibur Briefing, states:

“The Hieronymus device, patented by Thomas G. Hieronymus in 1949, is one such device. It has an optical front end, a prism that passes waves and does not admit particles. So a wave entering the front end will go through the prism and be refracted at an angle that depends on the frequency of the wave. Inside the surrounding box, which acts as a light shield, is a small tuner, a little copper rod attached to a rotating wheel so that the rod may be moved through the various refractive angles from the prism. The prism is mounted on the box with a thin slit in the wall, so that only a small and narrow field of view exists external to the box. The tuner rod is wired to the input of a three-stage RF amplifier where each stage is separately shielded against light, which is very interesting, because of a similar requirement in the two-slit experimental apparatus if the electron was to act as a wave. The output of the RF amplifier comes out of the box and ends in a flat coil of wire between two parallel plastic plates.

“Coming into the box through the slit in the prism, there can be single-state entities and dual-state entities or quitons. The physicist does not have a good name for a dual-state entity. They used to be called wavicles; today we talk about wave packets. But what after all is a wave packet? It is a three-dimensional bunch of two-dimensional waves! So that is where the physicists have hidden the idea of the dual-state wavicle today.

“Only single-state waves and dual-state entities or quitons can pass through the prism and be refracted at an angle dependent upon the frequency. If we then tune the rod into the correct angle of refraction, the refracted quitons hit it, as do the single-state waves if their frequency should happen to coincide with the frequency of the quitons. Now the single-state wave dies when it hits the copper rod; it may chip a single electron or two off a copper crystalline grain, but that is lost in the thermal noise anyway, below the detection threshold of the RF amplifier. The quitons, however, simply say ‘Oh! Now you want us to act like a corpuscular electron, and go through those wires and conduction paths. That’s all right, that is just our right hand side.’ So the quitons will go through and be amplified, just exactly like ordinary electrons would do. But now it is not electron energy, it is a dual-state analog of energy – let us call it anenergy, for analog of energy. (Hieronymus called it eloptic energy, since it could act as electron fl ow or as optical waves, but was neither exclusively.) The amplified anenergy will come out in the coil of wire and it will generate field and it is not a magnetic field, and so it cannot be measured on normal laboratory instruments. The simplest way to detect the anenergy fields is to use the human sensory system, because the human body knew about RF energy, frequency modulation, and anenergy long before we had modern electrical and magnetic instruments. (The use of anenergy is illustrated by acupuncture, a very ancient medical system dealing with the fact that a peculiar type of energy-like stuff flows in the body, and in certain points and structures of the body, it can interact with other energies and fields.)

“Now if we believe we cannot sense the an-energy fields, then we cannot. We can turn the entire an energy detection system in the body off with the unconscious mind. The negative psi effect is a well-documented effect in parapsychology. There are goats as well as sheep. Some persons do worse on psi tests than chance would possibly allow. They are the goats. They exhibit the negative psi effect, for unconsciously they want to show you that psi does not work, so they use psi effects to do worse than is possible by chance.

“At any rate, the human sensory system can get a tingle from the an energy field generated by the flat coil of wire in the Hieronymus machine’s output. What type of tingle one gets depends upon one’s own type of body sensory tuning. It may feel as if the fingers on the plastic plate are in thick syrup, or as if the plastic plate were vibrating. Or it may feel greasy in a peculiar way. And the negative person does not get a tingle at all.

“The Hieronymus machine has been built by many persons, and it works for those who are not negative. It processes entities that exist in the dual-state, or that obey the fourth law of logic. And we can do some almost magical things with these dual-state nonthings, these nothings, if we set our minds to it. This is what psychotronics is all about.”

Even before contemporary thinkers like Col. Bearden grappled with how radionic transactions work, other well-known scientists had struggled with the same dilemma. One such figure, Arthur M. Young, the helicopter inventor and friend of Ruth Drown, quoted earlier, had been one. Young made a point of meeting many radionics practitioners. He visited the Delawarr laboratories in Oxford. He met Hieronymus and even funded his research. He did not take issue with the fact that certain individuals were able to direct their devices to heal or augment agriculture. But he was frustrated by its theoretical underpinnings: “Initially, my goal was to encourage other people to develop a general theory of consciousness, with different minds contributing. I envisioned it to be an overall theory, not too complex, which would permit the adoption of new tenets towards a science of what I then called the nonphysical, but now term the projective realms of Nature.

“There seemed at first to be two possible methods: we could work from the higher realities down to the realm of the accepted, or from the accepted towards the paranormal or projective levels. By 1952, my experiences had shown that the former method could not succeed because individuals who are able to function in the paranormal sphere (such as Dr. Brunler, de la Warr, and Dr. Drown) feel no pressure to make scientifically acceptable explanations for their achievements. The latter approach has difficulties because most scientists are so intrigued by their own procedures that they care little for what lies beyond. It began to look like a shotgun wedding with neither bride nor groom a willing participant.”

Three Bank Hieronymus Radionics device

Arthur Young encountered the true paradox of the radionics inventor, that the mind of the operator seemed to play a predominant role in the operation of the device, while the instrument itself was more like a facilitator for some and completely unnecessary for others. In the course of his investigations, Young founded and became President of the Foundation for the Study of Consciousness.

He was also a friend of John W. Campbell, who was a trained scientist and editor of Astounding Science Fiction Magazine (later known as Analog). Campbell was already a famous science-baiter and counted many professional scientists among his readers. Seeing the potential for a scientific breakthrough in Hieronymus’ work, Campbell constructed a device from the patent and found that it worked. As a result, he published a favorable report in his magazine in the early 1950s that caused a run on the patent office with people eager to build the device.

Young told Campbell that he thought the instrument was only an aide to concentrating the mind, and the focal point of the radionic transaction was the operator’s own organs, or physiology. Young’s deduction meant that the instrument’s functionality proceeded from the body/mind of the operator, and was not dependent upon the electronics in the device at all. With this thought in mind, Campbell unplugged the instrument from its power source and discovered that it worked just as well.

Going further, Campbell designed a Hieronymus device consisting exclusively of a circuit diagram with only symbols of the components shown on paper. In other words, it was a purely an illustration of the device, a ready-made artwork consisting of a paper drawing, India ink, wire, thread and a dial. And he found this drawing worked just as well as the electronic version, provided none of the lines of the schematic were broken.

John Campbell wrote Hieronymus on June 4, 1956, concerning his unusual discovery: “When I began working with the machine, I learned that it didn’t need a power supply. Then I learned that it wouldn’t work if a tube were missing or defective. I saw some of the other psionic machines and saw that they worked, despite the fact that their wiring system made absolutely no logical sense. From that, I derived a new concept, a theory, and made a crucial experiment.

“I have a model of your analytical machine, simplified and streamlined to the ultimate. It consists solely of the circuit diagram; I have a symbol of a prism, not a real prism, mounted on a National Velvet Vernier dial; that, and a small copper loop, alone appear on the front surface of the panel. Back of the panel, the circuit diagram is drawn in India ink on standard drafting paper; the prism-symbol rotates in its appropriate place in the circuit diagram. The spiral coil is drawn in India ink on paper glued to the back of the panel; it is connected with the symbolized vacuum tube plate through a condenser-symbol by means of a nylon thread; the other end of the coil drawing is connected to the symbolized vacuum tube cathode by a second nylon thread from my wife’s sewing kit.

“The machine works beautifully; the consistency of performance is excellent… We’re working with magic – and magic doesn’t depend on matter, but on ‘form’ – on ‘pattern’ rather than substance.

“Your electronic circuit represents a pattern of relationships; that is important. The electrical characteristics are utterly unimportant, and can be dropped out completely. The machine fails when a tube burns out because that alters the pattern. It works when there is no power, because the relationship of patterns is intact. My symbolic diagram works because the pattern is present.”

The question that no one seemed to ask at this point was: If the Hieronymus device assists the mind in expanding the boundaries set by science for how the world works, essentially allowing the improbable to occur, does this possibility also open up an ability for the artist to radionically reverse engineer artistic tools to more effectively influence culture and events?

Given the fact that popular culture was having a hard enough time absorbing non-representational art in the 1950s, it is not surprising that a theoretical reach of this magnitude was put on hold. What did occur was actually fairly close to a contemporary art event. People went out and built radionics devices, demonstrating to themselves and others that even the drawings of the circuit would work.

[ The Secret Art is now available from Amazon and your local bookseller. ]