HERALD NEWS BUREAU
ANJIM, MAY 31 - A Goan engineering student at Florida International University in USA is set to present on the controversial out-of-body experience at the 25th Meeting of the Society for Scientific Exploration at Utah Valley State College, USA, on June 8.
Nelson Abreu is clearly not a typical electrical engineering student. Outside formal university pursuits, he has been researching the out-of-body experience (OBE) and other phenomena that cross traditional academic boundaries since high school.
Nelson, who was born in Lisbon, traces his roots to Goa, where his father, Magno Abreu, hails from Chorao and mother, Lilia Correia, is from Bardez.
A Miami Herald Silver Knight award recipient in 2000, Abreu is attempting to bring the scientific rigour and technical prowess of engineering to questions usually relegated to the clergy, mystics, or New Age aficionados.
"I cannot mock people who think their Near-Death Experiences (NDE's) and Out-of-Body Experiences (OBE's) are real, because I have experienced the OBE myself. This experience feels as real as the normal waking state," said Nelson.
However, the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research (PEAR) Laboratory intern is the first to concede that it takes much more than that to prove the experience is not merely a vivid mental construct of physiological origin.
Since 1998, Abreu and a few hundred colleagues throughout the world have been studying and developing techniques to "project," as they call it, by will. The objective is to develop a way for scientists to have many of these experiences themselves.
"Science can only begin to understand the OBE when researchers are able to repeatedly study the occurrence first hand," he says.
At the 25th Meeting of the Society for Scientific Exploration in Orem, Utah, the young investigator will present his Punctuated Relaxation Technique and discuss how developments such as this one may help advance a science of subjective phenomena that is not constrained by physical limits.
Abreu speculates that the out-of-body experience allows us to glimpse into the multidimensional universe akin to redictions of modern physical theories like string theory.
Investigators like Nelson Abreu think the out-of-body experience is at least as revolutionary as the telescope. Through personal experiences, he predicts scientists will be able to understand phenomena that are now considered "paranormal" and the millennial question of survival of the consciousness after death.
Such futuristic experiments are already underway. Take the Image Target experiments of Rodrigo Medeiros - another electrical engineer - and Patricia Sousa, an international lecturer on the NDE. Participants are asked to describe a picture randomly selected by a computer locked away at the offices of the International Academy of Consciousness in South Miami.
"Though participants rarely make it to the target location, the observations we get can be uncanny," says Medeiros, "down to photographic precision."